January Book Club Review

 

This month we have been reading Anne Tyler’s ‘Redhead by the Side of the Road’, one of the shorter and more bittersweet of her novels but, nevertheless, quietly profound and longlisted for the Booker Prize.

It is about Micah Mortimer:- a man in his 40s, the youngest of a chaotic family of sisters; the only one to go to university and then have a professional job, but who opted out of corporate life and now scrapes a living running a one-man computer repair business and caretaking his block of flats, giving him free accommodation. His family regard him with affectionate bewilderment.
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‘Gilead’ by Marilyn Robinson – Book Club Review

“Existence seems to me now the most remarkable thing that could ever be imagined”

 During this lockdown the Book Club has been reading “Gilead” by Marilyn Robinson, published in 2004 and winner of the Pulitzer Prize 2005, often on lists of best or most influential books.
I think that Barack Obama gives one of the most succinct summaries in his interview with the author for New York Review of books (2015) ‘One of my favourite characters in fiction is a pastor in Gilead , Iowa, named John Ames, who is gracious and courtly and a little bit confused about how to reconcile his faith with all the various travails that his family goes through. And I just fell in love with the book.’
It takes the form of a journal and memoir, as written in 1956 and is addressed to the narrator’s seven- year- old son.  John Ames is 76, ill with angina and wishes to leave something of himself to his son.  He has led a lonely life: his wife and baby daughter having died many years ago.  In old age he married a young woman, a wanderer of little education but has wisdom and sensitivity.  Some of the loveliest passages in the book are as Ames watches his young son and his wife together. Continue reading “‘Gilead’ by Marilyn Robinson – Book Club Review”

Book Review – Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

 If one’s different, one’s bound to be lonely.”

 Imagine a world where there is no illness or suffering; where embryos are created in test-tubes and raised in hatcheries – their caste determined by the chemicals the State injects into them, brainwashed as they sleep. Where the concept of family, mother or one sexual partner is repugnant – ‘everyone belongs to everyone else’ – and death itself is sanitised and painless. Where doubts and worries are soothed by ‘soma’, which creates virtual worlds, and where games and lighthearted play are constantly encouraged; solitude and books actively discouraged.
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Book Review – Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrel

He is dead and gone, lady,
He is dead and gone;
At his head a grass green turf,
At his heels a stone.    Hamlet, Act IV, scene v

“A wonderful book”; “I absolutely loved it”; “I started to re-read it immediately” – these were some of the book club’s comments on this month’s book ‘Hamnet’ by Maggie O’Farrell which has just won this year’s Women’s prize for Fiction.
Hamnet (another way of spelling Hamlet) was Shakespeare’s son, one of a twin with his sister Judith.  Little is known of him but he died in 1596 aged 11, and four year’s later his father wrote ‘Hamlet’. This is a fictionalized account of what might have happened. Continue reading “Book Review – Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrel”

Horticultural Society Spring Dates

 

The Horticultural Society’s AGM  in the Village Hall on Tuesday, 17th March at 10.00 am has been cancelled due to ‘self isolation’advice concerning the corono-virus.

Membership for 2020 is now due. As Barbara Ball has retired as Membership Secretary please contact Kathy Cracknell for a membership card on 01825 830616 or email: kathy.cracknell48@gmail.com

The Spring Supper on Wednesday, 22nd April has been cancelled due to ‘self isolation’advice concerning the corono-virus.

Book Review – ‘Warlight’ by Michael Ondaatje

‘We order our lives with barely held stories’ This month we read another novel set in the aftermath of WW2 – Michael Ondaatje’s 2018 ‘Warlight’. It is narrated by Nathaniel, now 28 years old looking back on the strange adventures of his adolescence.
The novel is in two parts. The first is set in 1945 in the twilight world of post-war London and much of the action takes place at night. Fifteen year old Nathaniel and his sister Rachel have been left by their parents in the care of a mysterious figure called The Moth. Their parents have ostensibly gone to Singapore for their father’s’ job but it is their mother, Rose, who is behind the flight and we gradually discover that she leads a double life as a spy. Continue reading “Book Review – ‘Warlight’ by Michael Ondaatje”

Register for Extra Help in the event of Power Cuts

UK Power Networks own and run the electricity cables in most of our region and fix power cuts. They deliver the electricity which you buy through your choice of supplier. They provide a free priority service for anyone who might face extra difficulty in the event of a power cut, including households with an elderly person, young children, someone less mobile or someone with a health condition.
By registering with UK Power Networks’ Priority Services Register you will be given a priority 24-hour phone number for communication, receive extra information and regular updates during any power cut. In the event of a longer power cut you could receive hot food, hot drinks and hot water, mobile phone charging and more. Those who rely on power to run medical equipment, such as dialysis or breathing apparatus, would also receive additional help.     Continue reading “Register for Extra Help in the event of Power Cuts”

Love is Blind by William Boyd

‘Life without complications isn’t really a life’

Our choice in July was ‘Love is Blind’ by William Boyd. Like many of Boyd’s novels (e.g. ‘Any Human Heart’) it follows the protagonist’s life, in this case ten years of Brodie Mancur’s life at the beginning of the 20th century as he flees around the world from a pursuer bent on revenge. It is therefore a picaresque adventure story owing much to one of Boyd’s heroes, Robert Louis Stevenson, as well as to Chekhov – another influence on his writing. Continue reading “Love is Blind by William Boyd”